Are You Being Served? (The Movie) (1977)
|Year Of Production||1977|
|RSDL / Flipper||No/No||Cast & Crew|
|Region Coding||4||Directed By||Bob Kellett|
Universal Pictures Home Video
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||None||English Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)|
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||1.78:1|
|Video Format||576i (PAL)|
|Original Aspect Ratio||Unknown||Miscellaneous|
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||No|
"Are You Being Served?" is another of the popular British Comedies from the 1970s which made its way from the television to the big screen, along with contemporaries such as Man About The House and Father, Dear Father. Like those other series the big screen incarnation was less of a success than the small screen one had been. For me, the main reason for this is that in the transition to a larger stage the writers seem to have felt that the audience expected something on a larger scale for their money, and so changed (and not for the better) the formula which worked so well on the telly. It may also be that these shows suited a quick 22 minutes, but the increased length of a feature stretches the jokes too far.
In this film we find that the Grace Bros. store is due to be renovated, and to encourage all of the employees to take leave while the work is being done they are offered cut price trips to various attractive holiday destinations. Some of the staff are off to Las Palmas, but for Mr Humphries, Mrs Slocombe and the rest of the clothing department it is Costa Plonka! It takes them 28 screen minutes or so to get there, so for the first part of the film we are in the familiar department store (in fact, for about the length of a typical TV episode).
Once they arrive at their destination there are the usual problems with room bookings, foreign food, unfamiliar, erm, sanitation arrangements and the like. There is also a revolutionary stalking the hotel and you can guarantee the gang will get involved in the supposedly comic goings on once the revolution gets going on. If you have seen the show you will be happy to know that Mrs Slocombe (Mollie Sugden) and her pussy are in fine form, and Mr Humphries (John Inman) is camping it up in more ways than one. The rest of the cast seem to be going through the motions with little enthusiasm for their big screen venture.
The main problem I found in sitting through this viewing is that the film is just not funny. I was never a big fan of the series but at least it gave me the odd laugh, however, the feature film barely raised a smirk (except for the passport photo scene) and the rest of the audience who watched it with me felt the same. The only redeeming feature is that Manuel is on hand (OK, he is Carlos here, but if you close your eyes you can almost imagine you are watching Fawlty Towers instead...almost). If you are not a big fan of the original I would give this one a wide berth. I suspect this is the lowest score I have given a disc for program content yet, and it fully deserves it.
The video transfer on this disc is reasonable and looks to have been sourced from a print in pretty good physical condition, though it appears a little dated at times.
The aspect ratio is 1.78:1, non 16x9 enhanced (darn). I have been unable to determine the original cinema release ratio, but it would no doubt have been close to the ratio on the disc.
The picture is sharp for the most part, though it occasionally drifts into a softer focus. There is no shadow detail to comment on, as even night scenes are brightly lit, and there is little low level noise to worry about. The lack of shadow in the night shots is rather disconcerting, as bright day in the Mediterranean should look a little different to the black of night (perhaps they couldn't afford better lighting while shooting the film?).
The colours look reasonably fresh, though flesh tones can be a little too much on the pink side at times (perhaps it is just the sunburn of those pale Brits).
The picture looks to be in good shape, with the main flaws being a tendency to grain (which 16x9 enhancement could have alleviated) and the occasional negative artefact.
There are no subtitles and no layer change.
The audio transfer is serviceable, without being particularly exciting, which is acceptable for a comedy lacking any dramatic effects scenes.
There is only the one audio track, an English Dolby Digital 2.0 mono track encoded at a bitrate of 192 Kb/s. The sound is a little lacking in directionality - switching to ProLogic mode fixes it firmly in the centre of the screen but loses whatever spatiality is present.
Dialogue is clear at all times (though with occasional variance in volume), with good audio sync. For what it is worth you will be able to hear the dodgy dialogue perfectly.
The music is minimal, and uncredited. At one point it attempts a Scott Joplin moment, with limited success.
There is very limited surround presence in this mono track (well, next to none in fact) and the subwoofer takes a bit of a holiday with the characters in the film.
|Surround Channel Use|
We have a trailer (for once, even this was too much for me - I wanted to get over this disc as soon as I could).
Static, no audio. The choices you have are: Play, Scene Selection (20), Trailer.
This one is really bad, with the voice-over being particularly poor. It runs for 2:34 and is presented at an aspect ratio of about 1.78:1, and strangely appears to be 16x9 enhanced, unlike the main feature.
NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.
The Region 1 version of this disc is similar to the Region 4 version except that it is 16x9 enhanced. The Region 2 is the same as the Region 4. The reviews of the Region 1 version are mixed as far as video quality goes, so I would stick with the local release for reasons of availability.
This DVD is just plain dull. If you are a mad keen fan of the show you might still find some enjoyment here, otherwise I can't recommend this even as a rental. The picture and audio are average, and the lack of extras mean that collectors will likely be disappointed as well.
|DVD||Toshiba SD-K350, using Component output|
|Display||SONY VPL-HS10 LCD projector, ABI 280cm 16x9 screen. Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.|
|Audio Decoder||Kenwood. Calibrated with Video Essentials.|